Archives for September 2015

Sam the builder

Meet Sam. Sam builds things. Designs things, too. Very nice things, in fact. At heart, Sam is an artist. It shows. For nearly a year now, Sam has been expressing himself through the El Moore, and the El Moore is much better because of it. Because of Sam. Take a close look at the walls in the cabins. Or at some of the fixtures. Take a look at the bunk beds in the basement. Tom is in the building even when he’s not. Sam first got involved with the El Moore by becoming somewhat of a regular at the weekly community lunch held every Friday at the Green Garage. He met Adrienne, who works for Red Panda, one of the businesses-in-residence there, and they became friends. Soon he met Tom Brennan which, as these things tend to happen, led to some further discussions which eventually led to him … [Read more...]

Building Update – Week of September 21, 2015

Here's a pictorial summary of some of the latest updates to the building. The focus of the work now centers on the lodge rooms. The lodge rooms exist on 3 floors: the rooftop, the first floor and the basement. Take a look at our latest work. … [Read more...]

Our Growing Book Collection

Today a slew of new books were added to our collection in the parlor. We have a Detroit-themed collection, which may seem narrow, but the titles are quite varying. There are a number of books about Detroit architecture (such as American City: Detroit Architecture 1845-2005), biographies (such as Joe Louis: Black Champion in White America and Hard Stuff: The Autobiography of Mayor Coleman A. Young), the arts (such as Discovering Stained Glass in Detroit) and much more. A personal favorite of mine is Arc of Justice, the story of Dr. Ossian Sweet, a Detroit doctor whose move in the mid-1920's to a previously all-white neighborhood led to a mob gathering outside of his house, shots fired, and men killed. Dr. Sweet was defended by Clarence Darrow, and became a symbolic figure within the … [Read more...]

How to dream the perfect bed

First of all, they’re not just beds. Because just beds are just something that folks just sleep on when they get tired. Most folks don’t pay much attention to their beds because most beds aren’t built for attention. They’re, well ... they’re just beds. But anyone who has had the opportunity to take a look at the beds constructed for the cabins in the El Moore has quickly realized that these structures are works of art. True, they are functional pieces that serve a useful purpose (because sleep, most would agree, is fairly useful), but they most certainly are not just beds. These are custom beds designed to, quite possibly, design custom dreams. But only those who have slept in them will be able to attest to that. And although the beds were technically designed by Chad Dickinson, … [Read more...]

Fred’s Key Shop: A Detroit Cass Corridor Institution

As a native Detroiter who grew up in the general West Grand Boulevard area near where the 1967 Detroit Rebellion began, I have deep and wonderful memories of those days in my beloved City. I remember all of the little stores and shops on 12th Street (now Rosa Parks Boulevard) and 14th Street and Linwood. Things have definitely changed over the years, and as we welcome the “new” businesses to Cass Corridor area (now called “Midtown”), we must always honor and remember that there were already a lot of businesses in Detroit. These “old school” businesses  usually started right after World War II when the population of Detroit was close to two million residents. The business owners worked hard, thrived, and some of the businesses died, were destroyed in the 1960s and beyond, or just plain … [Read more...]

New Work on the Building

Our apartment residents are all settled in, but work is continuing on the building. In particular, the rooftop cabins are beginning to see new beds. The beds, made by Chad Dickinson of Dickinson by Design, are made from the same lath that we used to line the walls of the cabins (you may recall that the lath came from behind the original plaster walls). Here's a picture of one of the beds. When you look at it, keep in mind that the whitish panel in the headboard will soon be covered in fabric. You'll see some round white knobs lining the headboard posts. These were among the hundreds of white knobs we found underground when we dug out the foundation of the elevator tower. We suspect they came from a house that had resided on the property long ago. What they were doing with this … [Read more...]

Deep Porch Sitting

Since moving to the El Moore, I've been sitting on my porch most mornings with my coffee and laptop. I've made it a comfortable place to sit with my mom's wrought iron furniture and planted marigolds in pots for an added touch of color. The weather has been so beautiful and begs for that deep porch sitting. I have a good view of Second Avenue, the Community Garden, and the Green Alley. My second floor porch has also become perfect for an experience I had not expected. My porch sitting has become a forum for social interaction with people passing by. I think the building itself draws them there. Then they see the bright colors of my porch furniture and flowers and some are surprised to see me sitting there when I greet them. Curiosity draws people to the building because of its grand … [Read more...]

Urban Cabins Part 2: Not a map — a compass

This is part two in an ongoing series about the El Moore's rooftop cabins. Read Part 1 here. I feel silly in retrospect looking at all those fashionable headboards and hotel furniture without asking myself some fabulously important questions: What are the Urban Cabins? Where do they come from? What do they do? When Tom Brennan suggested the Lakota Medicine Wheel as a type of compass for us, I had no idea what to expect. I wasn't all that familiar with the concept and I suppose I was a bit suspicious at the onset about appropriating another culture's ancient symbol. If we had, for example, begun to use the sacred wheel as a theme, rather than taking some wisdom from it, I wouldn't have been as enthused. However it quickly became apparent that we wouldn't be commandeering the symbol as … [Read more...]